A listeria outbreak, which started in Colorado, has now been reported in Texas and Nebraska. Tainted cantaloupes appear to be the culprits behind nine of the 13 cases of severe illness and at least one fatality (a second fatality due to listeria was not reported as having consumed cantaloupe). All this since the 1st of August though a smaller outbreak in June left two dead. It is cases like this that make a person think very carefully before digging in at dinnertime or enjoying a mid-day snack. Many people associate listeria with smoked meats and soft cheeses but this food borne illness can find its way into any number of our fruits and veggies.
An estimated 48 million (yes, I said million) people fall ill each year due to tainted food. Food borne diseases send at least 128,000 to the hospital and take the lives of over 3,000 people annually. To reduce the chance of you or your family members becoming victims of contaminated foods its best to carefully wash any fruits or veggies and to always cook meats at the recommended temperature. Though, in cases like this where the tainted food is a cantaloupe washing thoroughly will not be beneficial as people rarely eat the rinds. It is uncommon to grill this fruit, too, so to be safe just avoid eating cantaloupe until the CDC has cleared the melon as suitable for consumption. In addition to avoiding cantaloupe, CDPHE (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment) chief medical officer, Dr. Chris Urbina stated “People can decrease their risk of Listeria infection by avoiding deli meats unless reheated to an internal temperature of 165 F, refrigerated pâté or meat spreads, refrigerated smoked seafood, and soft cheeses such as queso fresco and brie unless they are made with pasteurized milk.”
If you have already been exposed to cantaloupe and are experiencing the early symptoms of listeria, which are, fever, muscle ache, nausea and diarrhea. Later symptoms can be a signal that the infection has spread to the nervous system and require emergency care. Signs and symptoms include…
- Confusion or Change in Alertness
- Loss of Balance
- Stiff neck
- Sensitivity to Light
For more information on the recent listeria outbreak please contact us today and please, stay healthy.